Guayaquil—I (Tom) traveled to Guayaquil last week. I met for more than an hour with Pastor Gustavo who gave me a good report on the church’s new financial support plan and budget process. As very few families understand or practice personal budgeting, it is very challenging for a congregation to grip the meaning of a collective church budget that involves them in the process of providing income and managing outflows. Since most members do not do it individually or in family, widely varying opinions can stymie the process. Gustavo is doing a good job blazing some new trails and we are seeing positive and immediate results.
Wednesday evening I met with the Altar Cristiano church. There was a good number in attendance as I brought a devotional from Ephesians 4 regarding unity. I then talked with them about their very first official local church conference. They are ready to move up from a church-in-development status to that of an organized church. The conference will be held September 4th, piggy-backing on three nights of celebration of their 6th anniversary. Pray this will be an encouraging time for all.
On Thursday night I met with the pastors group. Since we had not been able to meet for two months, there was a good amount of conversation and informal sharing. Reports were good and there was a great sense of unity.
Bible institute—Our Bible institute students are progressing well. Pilar, Nino, Juan Carlos and Diana are nearing the half-way point in their three-year program. They seem as enthusiastic and committed as ever.
ICW Racar—Attendance is holding up well this August. It is normally a month of holiday fun and plummeting church attendance. We had no such slump this year. Last Sunday’s attendance was down from our average 60 to 56. However, the same Sunday last year we had 12! God is blessing us with growth, developing leadership and a good harvest of souls. Since setting our goal to win 220 people to Christ back in May, we have seen 41 people pray to be saved! Thirty-four of these were women in the prison who responded to a salvation message presented by a team from North Carolina. But this wasn’t just your ordinary mass response in hopes of something better. I stood among those women and saw them trembling and weeping and calling out to God to save them. Tears of repentance flowed. Hands were outstretched in faith that as the Master passed by, they too, would experience his redeeming touch. It was powerful.
Racar discipleship class—A week ago Monday we started a new discipleship class in the home of recent convert. Four members of this family were saved in May. Fourteen people attended the first class, including Jorge and Jenny Prieto. We hope to use Jorge and Jenny to help teach the class. Last evening in the class, Paco testified that on Sunday, after the service, he visited his in-laws. Relations have been very strained since the father-in-law remarried. Be that as it may, Paco led his new mother-in-law to the Lord! New converts winning new converts—I like it!
Legal work—Pray that our visas will be renewed when we travel to Quito August 25. Also pray that the two documents we lack for our corporation papers will soon be in hand.
Thanks for your heart for Ecuador. Bless you!